Kosher Kitchen Remodeling Part 2
by Roberta Scher
This is the second part of a 3 part article.
Getting the house ready for the kitchen remodel
The shopping and appliance selection (described in Part 1) are time consuming tasks, but emptying the kitchen and adjoining rooms is even more intensive!
If you are refinishing or installing new floors, everything has to be moved or stored – every table, chair, lamp. and decorative object. You will discover things that you never even noticed were there! And where should it all go? Either into a rented storage unit, an outdoor storage pod, or in any rooms you are not renovating. We had sofas in the dining room, tables in the guest bedroom and a basement filled with knick knacks, chairs, and most all of our furniture.
If you are not budget driven (yes we are), you can arrange for professional furniture removal and storage. Important tip: If you like the furniture design layout of your rooms, take a photo of every room at every angle so that you will remember where to put it all back after the project (Yes, that day will come!).
Prepare for construction dust. Cover HVAC intake vents with filter material if floor or wallboard sanding will be part of the project. If indoor temperatures permit, turn off your HVAC system during the sanding. If possible, isolate the rooms being sanded by taping plastic sheets over passageways. Plan to change the furnace filters soon after sanding and construction.
During the tear-out and construction phase of a new kitchen, you must be ready for limited cooking unless you plan to eat every meal out.
Cooking without a kitchen... here's how to do it with a "temporary kitchen":
• If at all possible, have a refrigerator (a must!) and freezer available
• Hot plate • Slow cooker
• Grill • Outdoor grill
• Toaster • Coffee maker
• Blender • Single electric burner
• Tabletop style grill- like a George Foreman
We set up a table in our dining room for a coffee maker (Keurig), a toaster, and 2
microwaves, and we used our outdoor grill quite often.
We also used some metal industrial shelves like the ones pictured here for an open "pantry" area. The shelves, after a few days of use, were jam-packed with essential food and cooking supplies for our dining room cooking.
Among the supplies you will need:
• Disposable tableware including plates, bowls, hot and cold cups, flatware, serving utensils, and rolls and rolls of paper towels
• Microwave safe disposable bowls
• Temporary, easily accessible shelves to store pantry supplies
• Plastic wrap, foil, Ziploc bags
• Warming tray
• Single serve coffee maker such as a Keurig
• Instant Coffee
• Microwave safe kettle for boiling water
• Plastic pour over coffee cup
My project mantra: The dollar store is my friend; the dollar store is my friend ... the dollar store ...
We did not enjoy washing our utensils and bowls in the bathroom sink or bathtub, but that was our only choice. This was our least favorite aspect of the "cooking without a kitchen" process. So we stocked up on disposables. If you have a separate laundry sink (we don't), consider washing your dishes there.
Menus, Tips, Tricks
A kitchen remodel takes at least 60-120 days (except on TV). This is especially complicated for the kosher or budget conscious family due to the expense and limitations of eating out and ordering takeout food.
Make it ahead. Before your project begins, and if you have freezer space, we suggest that you prepare some freezable meals. I prepared various types of soups and froze them in disposable microwavable containers. We purchased many of these containers at 2/$1.00 at Dollar Tree.
I also froze brisket, lasagna and boneless chicken schnitzel.
Here are some menu ideas:
Cold cereal, microwave cereal, microwavable pancakes, waffles
Lunch: Sandwiches, salads (bagged, pre-cleaned lettuce only), microwavable ready to eat meals
Pizza in the microwave or on the grill
Microwave poached salmon
Microwave baked potatoes
Microwave rice, beans and cheese
Spaghetti with jarred sauce
Bottled salad dressing- We rarely use bottled salad dressing – but this was a staple during our remodel
Supermarket rotisserie chicken and cold cuts
Pre-made pizza crusts or ready to heat pizza
Canned tuna and salmon
Ice cream and more ice cream:)
We served rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, grilled meats, potatoes, microwave steamed vegetables, salads, soups
We particularly loved our dessert of peaches macerated in brown sugar and liqueur served with parve Ice cream
We discovered that beets are excellent when microwaved. We simply washed them and put them in a microwave safe bowl filled about halfway with water; covered them; Then we cooled the beets, peeled, and continue to microwave until soft.
Three easy and convenient staple recipes for the kitchen-less family:
Potatoes: Cut into large chunks. Sprinkle with olive oil. Microwave a few minutes, turn potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic...then microwave until done
Rice: Put 1 cup rice and 2 cups water or broth into a covered microwave-safe bowl, and microwave about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and check for doneness. One cup of raw rice takes about 15 minutes.
Corn on the cob: Simply rinse; cover with a damp paper towel and microwave until soft.
A shout out for our Lekue microwave rice maker! I highly recommend this versatile kitchen tool. We used it to make rice, corn, pasta and noodles. Yes, spaghetti and various pastas can easily be cooked in the microwave. In fact, it was our most used, indispensible cooking tool through the entire remodel.
Grilled vegetables and fruits: If you have a grill, we suggest grilling tons of vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, green beans and more. Pineapple and peaches are also grill friendly. The vegetables or fruits can be eaten chilled, added to rice or pasta, or used as side dishes
Working with the construction crew- Show some Southern Hospitality
Three R's of Keeping the Crew Happy- we found this advice online and think that it is great:
1. Refreshments: Offer coffee,bottled water or soft drinks. They'll appreciate it.
2. Responsibility: Move out of the way!
3. Respect: Say good morning, good night, and good job when appropriate.
The kitchen remodel process took 4 months, 4 long inconvenient months... So was it worth it?
Part 3 Coming Soon
I would be happy to answer any questions you might have- just email
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Kosher Kitchen Remodeling - Part 1
by Roberta Scher
What are the symptoms of a kitchen needing a remodel? For us it was 2 out of 4 non-functioning cooktop burners; a double oven with torn insulation; 2 un-repairable melted cabinet doors (no more laminate cabinet doors for us!); a non- working icemaker; a trash compactor which hasn’t been used in years, a pantry filled to the brim with hidden-in-the-back foods; and an aging Corian countertop.
We deliberated for over a year whether to take this major step. . . there was always that little voice inside, remembering that we grew up in homes with kitchens the size of closets without any of these “fancy” appliances; we had the basics - a refrigerator, a sink, a small range and a single oven. One of our grandmothers did not even have a refrigerator. . . just an icebox. By the way, the meals in our childhood homes were delicious.
We read an encouraging statistic which helped with our decision: In the current real estate market, experts say that you likely can recoup up to about 80 percent of your kitchen remodeling investment when selling your home. Ok, true, we are not selling, but . . .
Yes, we decided to go forward.
Part 1: Planning Renovating a kitchen is a costly undertaking -- one that involves a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of stress. Once the decision is made to go forward, the next step is deciding on the extent of the facelift. Very soon after making that decision, that remodeling disease we are all too familiar with enters: “Since we are already doing it, we might as well. . .” And the “might as wells”, with the possible add-ons, seemed endless - at least they were for us:
• Should we refinish the 18-year-old wood floors in the kitchen and adjacent rooms? YES.
• Should we paint not just the kitchen, but the adjacent rooms as well? YES.
• Since we have to move everything anyway for the floors to be refinished should we send the 18-year-old kitchen chairs, and the 30-year-old sofa and family room chairs to be re-upholstered? YES.
• Should we update the 18-year-old fluorescent kitchen light fixtures? YES.
As is evident, the simple single kitchen update project expanded well into the “might as wells” territory.
Prior to launching the project we also waivered as to its management. Should we find individual contractors, and act as the project managers ourselves, or should we hire a general contractor to oversee it all? After consulting with friends and other homeowners, we decided to hire a general contractor. And so we did. That was a great decision for us because we did not realize how many moving parts are involved in kitchen construction. When things go as planned, there are no issues. However, when unexpected problems arrive, it is re-assuring to have a knowledgeable, experienced contractor in charge.
There are no reliable estimates for how many people in the United States keep kosher, however, it is very interesting that most of the major appliance manufacturers have now installed a Sabbath mode in their models. There obviously is sufficient demand and financial reward for appliance brands to include Shabbos compliant features in their products. As we know, many kosher consumers order two of each appliances. But this could not be the only rationale. For information on Sabbath compliant appliances, visit the Star K: http://www.star-k.org/cons-appl.htm
First Step: The plans
Several meetings were set up with a kitchen designer to share the requirements for our newly designed kosher kitchen. We planned for two of each appliance and created a design, which would offer efficient placement and lots of storage space. We went through several plans and finally settled on one similar to our prior layout. We were not remodeling due to dissatisfaction with the functionality of our space; we were remodeling due to the age of our appliances and cabinets.
Emptying the kitchen:
What a job! Both labor intensive and lengthy. We gathered empty boxes and bins and more boxes and stacks of old newspapers and plastic grocery bags. We emptied the kitchen in an organized way, used markers for labeling, and then we cleared space to store the boxes. We were fortunate to be able to use our basement for storage, but do be aware before starting to have an ample storage space. And, remember to not pack up essentials needed for kitchenless meal prep.
Every cabinet, every drawer, every counter top appliance, all cookbooks had to be emptied or moved – that’s years and years of accumulation. We did discover one shortcut: we took some of the old cabinet drawers, still full of flatware and utensils, to our basement storage area and left them until it was time to set up the new kitchen. This reduced part of the work. In addition to preparing boxes for storage, we prepared a huge trash box and a huge giveaway/donation box. This was our chance to purge cracked, broken and no longer needed items.
Shop ‘til you drop!
As we planned for the new kitchen we visited appliance stores both online and in person. Factors to consider in appliance selection included customer satisfaction ratings, repair records, price, visual appeal, energy efficiency, ease of operation and cleaning, and of course Star-K Shabbos compliance.
Researching appliances is a full time job . . . especially adding the kosher kitchen factor. Here’s a quick summary of what we chose:
Puff pastry is delicate and complex, simply NOT something that you want to make yourself. Yes, we love to create all types of baked goods and yeast doughs, but not puff pastry dough. Even expert baking professionals prefer to buy ready made puff pastry. And Dufour is their brand of choice. It is simply the best that we have ever tasted. Dufour is made with pure butter and can be used in sweet or savory dishes, perfect for appetizers and desserts. After constantly hearing accolades about this award-winning line, we were delighted that Dufour became Kof-K kosher certified in 2014. From founder and CEO Judi Arnold: "We are extremely happy to respond to the many requests we've received for kosher certification. All of our pastry ingredients have passed KOF-K's requirements, and we continue to produce the exact same high quality products that have earned us our reputation as "the chef's secret source." By the way, KosherEye was one of those voices!
We were not disappointed. It was everything we expected buttery, flaky, rich, and so easy to work with. It can now be found in specialty supermarkets, gourmet shops, natural food stores and catalogues nationwide. Dufourpastrykitchens.com
Try these recipes... We tested and tasted each. Coming soon – our creation with Dufour chocolate puff pastry dough. We are also working on a new rugelach recipe.
Easy Sticky Buns
Tuna Pot Pie in a Puff Pastry Crust
What do vodka and art have in common? Both Van Gogh vodka and Vincent Van Gogh's art are to be appreciated and slowly savored. Both were born in Holland. And, as noted by the company, "Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh was famous for his emotional honesty, use of bold colors and for pioneering the post-impressionist movement. Van Gogh Vodka celebrates its namesake with beautiful, artist-inspired packaging and innovative flavors with vibrant, true-to-life tastes."
Van Gogh Vodka was founded in Holland in 1999 by David Van de Velde. Its distillery is still located in Schiedam, Holland, and lead by 2nd generation master distiller Tim Vos. The company currently produces 22 different hand-crafted flavored vodkas-one of the largest selections of any brand. Van Gogh Vodka is crafted using only the finest fruit, grains and purified water. The grain alcohol goes through a multiple distillation process followed by an all-natural double infusion flavoring process. The company has won numerous awards and accolades. Best of all for the kosher consumer, some of Van Gogh's flavors are now OU Kosher certified.
How delighted we were to discover that several flavors of Van Gogh vodka are now OU kosher certified. Lucky KosherEye! We have had a chance in the past few weeks to taste some of these newly kosher certified flavors, and it is our pleasure to share some of our favorites with you... yes, we are still sipping, so come on over, "y'all"!
As we start a new year, leading food trend forecasters have shared their predictions. Topping our list is an important trend relevant to the kosher consumer. A top trend recently reported by Mintel, the world's leading market intelligence agency, is a consistent rise in kosher product claims... “Kosher claims on labels are on the rise and gaining traction. In 2014, 40.6% of new products claimed to be kosher; in 2013, 36.3% and in 2009, 25.6%. Consumers believe that kosher is more wholesome”.
- It is the year of the Jewish Deli - Welcome back schmaltz.
- Frying is back – Fat is ok, again
- High-end bourbon and whisky replaces scotch at #1
- Communal boozing- sharable drinks and punch
- Tastes of the year include: savory ice creams and yogurts
- Flavored salts and smoky flavors; Sriracha and more sriracha
- Root veggies gain in popularity – Hello parsnips!
- Technology abounds – same day grocery delivery, instant calorie counts, smart phone couponing, new apps, restaurant ordering, time saving tech
- Golden Grazers - Older people eating smaller and more frequent meals and searching for “longevity friendly” foods
- Millennials and GenZs gravitate to their grandparents taste for pickled and fermented foods - pickled herring, pickles, sauerkraut, and modern ferments such as kimchi…
- Everyone’s a home chef – Artisan foods and ingredients made at home
- Social Food- Supermarkets convert to socializing spaces with classes, tastes, demos, events - (sounds like Costco and Whole Foods doesn’t it?)
- New BFF's - Best Food Friending online - new closer relationships with food vendors, supermarkets, food bloggers, chefs and brands
- Pistachios - (move over almonds) to reduce blood pressure and lower insulin levels
- Better sourcing... more organic, sustainability, local, emphasis on whole grains; authenticity in nutrition labeling and sourcing; grass-fed, anti-GMO movements
- Food waste reduction - throw away less, re-use, re-purpose, re-cook; transparency and better education in spoilage dating
- Expanding types of foods that offer digestive health, such as pro-biotics
- A new wave of functional plant-based waters – beyond coconut water and energy drinks
2015 KosherEye Culinary Wish List
Gathered from the wishes of our staff, readers and food blogger friends, we present our annual KosherEye culinary wish list.
YAY! The kosher certified food selection expanded again in 2014. Each year we are excited about the increase in the number of brands choosing to go kosher.
It’s the Sensational Slow Cooker!
We all need a full time kitchen assistant. There is so little time for food preparation during the short, cold, busy months of winter. And, winter is just the season that we need to prepare hot meals, FAST! Or, shall we say, SLOW!
Yes, we consider our slow cooker the answer to our cooking dilemma; how to prepare delicious, healthful family pleasing comfort meals with minimal hands–on time, and in fact, while we are not even at home!
by Guest Columnist Eileen Goltz
For many the concept of chicken soup is either tied to matzo balls or feeding a multitude of sick family and friends. Let me suggest that we take a step back from what we think we know and talk about how almost every culture has a version they believe is the ORIGINAL one.
We know that all you really need to make chicken soup is a chicken and a liquid (usually water) of some kind. What parts of the chicken make the best soup? Well, hold on to your collective cooking hats because