Posts Tagged organization

VeganMoFo: New Kitchen!

Dave and I moved into a new house a few months ago, and I love the kitchen!

blank slate

Here it is all moved in.  I still want to paint the walls (can’t stand the current beige!), but other than that it’s pretty much all set up and functional.  The one negative was a lack of storage, so adding the Ikea island helped out with that.  I also like how the butcher block top adds a little warmth to what otherwise might be a “cold” space.  We plan to get chairs or stools for the left side soon.

cat photo bomb

When we first saw the house, I immediately noticed that the corner cabinet is a little higher than the rest and wondered if my Vitamix would fit.  (For anyone not in the know, a Vitamix is too tall to fit under a normal height cabinet when the container is on the base.)

This corner is now affectionately known as “the Vitamix corner”.  And notice the under-cabinet lighting?

It’s awesome!  At our old house I was often cooking in my own shadow, so these lights are a real bonus.

The sink is deep with a food disposal, and the faucet pulls out and sprays.

We had to buy a fridge, so we took a coupon to Lowe’s and found one that had a lot of nice features but wasn’t too expensive.

Water in the fridge door might not seem like a big deal to some, but for us it eliminated using two separate Brita pitchers since I like water room temperature and Dave likes it chilled.  This small change felt like it cleared up a lot of clutter.

We chose a side-by-side style, and I love how much room there is in the freezer!  Our old freezer was on top of the fridge, and food would get lost in the back.

Spices before organization.

Spices after organization!  The cabinet is too deep for the usual spice shelves to be useful, so this is the solution we came up with.  The magnetic strips are from Ikea, and the tins are these square ones from Specialty Bottle.

To maximize storage capacity, I went with the SpiceStack, choosing the classic model for its ability to hold both round and square bottles.  It comes with pre-printed and blank labels, to which I added my most excellent handwriting.

I don’t love that it’s plastic, but it works for exactly what we needed, and is actually quite sturdy.

This is a fun corner by the stove.  We used another magnetic strip to hold the knives that don’t fit in the knife block, and a pot lid rack that I bought like five years ago but never used.  I also keep the sea salt, smoked salt, and Trader Joe’s flower pepper out so that I remember to use them more often.

We do have a dishwasher, but always need a bit more space to dry random and delicate things.  Rather than the typical dish drainer which seems to just get dirty, I went with a collapsible tray that can go in the dishwasher, and a drying mat that can go in the washing machine.

We needed some sort of “pantry” storage for the tons of dry goods that I like to keep on hand, so we went with an Ikea Pax cabinet.  (Yes, Ikea has been key in furnishing the kitchen…)

I haven’t organized it yet, but you can see that there are two drawers on the bottom for my jars of grains, flour and beans, and shelving for the rest.  It’s pretty full right now, so I definitely need to consolidate!

Lastly, what is probably my finest accomplishment – an organized Tupperware cabinet!  I arranged it shortly after moving in and it has actually stayed that way, which makes me very proud of myself.

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Pantry Cleanup 2K10

So, I’m a little late on the Happy New Year post, but regardless – here is how I spent my New Year’s Day!

The obligatory black eyed peas, in soup form.

I read an article saying that round foods are also lucky, so I made a round loaf of spelt cornbread…then I cut it into wedges, which may have negated its round power.

Also, a salad to be extra healthy.

I’m not much for resolutions, but I do believe in goals and action.  One of my goals for my time off during the winter break was to clean out and organize my pantries.  I didn’t take any before pictures because it looked like your basic hodge podge of pantry items.  I pretty much knew what I had and generally where it was, but I would have to spend a few minutes searching for things sometimes and I had a lot of bulk items still in the plastic bags, and it just wasn’t cutting it.

Top of the pantry, after, from top to bottom and left to right:  cookie cutters, hand mixer, rice cooker, extra plastic bags; excess bulk items, cans and jars, pasta:  flours, sugars and other baking items in jars in alphabetical order; snacks and sweets, dried fruit, breakfast items.

Bottom of the pantry:  first shelf is Dave’s stuff (don’t look!).  Dave complains because he doesn’t have more space, but really, this is the volume extent of what he keeps in the house.  Grains then beans, all in alpha order, and a few random items; dried mushrooms and chiles, tea, and space to grow; food processor, seaweeds, bread machine, and extra flours and other things I couldn’t categorize with anything else.  Hooray for an organized pantry, I know exactly where everything is and how much I have!

Lastly, on my last day visiting my family in Florida I made a birthday cake for my future sister-in-law, Kiersten.  I asked what her favorite flavor cake is and she said coconut, but both my brother and I don’t like coconut, so we went with her second favorite – chocolate and cherries.

Blowing out the candles.

Inside shot.

Here’s a thrown together recipe.

Erin’s Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Cake

Chocolate Cake (Tara’s Chocolate Cake from La Dolce Vegan)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside. (This cake tends to stick if you don’t oil and flour the pans well.) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl stir together the oil, vinegar, vanilla (and almond extract if using) and cold water. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just mixed. Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting. Makes 2 cakes.

Cherry Filling
1 bag frozen cherries, defrosted
pinch of sugar
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
splash of balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, stirring occasionally.

Glossy Chocolate Frosting (adapted from and old version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook)
3 Tbs vegetable shortening or Earth Balance
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 3/4 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract)

Heat shortening or Earth Balance in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Stir in remaining ingredients; beat until smooth. Place pan of frosting in a bowl of ice water; continue beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Don’t make the frosting until the cake is cool enough to be frosted, as the frosting will thicken while it sits.

To assemble cake:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate upside down, so the flat side is up. Spread the cherry filling on top. Place the other cake on top, right side up. Frost the top and sides. Press toasted slivered almonds around the side of the cake and use to decorate the top. Enjoy!

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