Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Kitchen Reno: Ottawa Edition

Many of you have come through a rip-it-back to the drywall and start from scratch kitchen renovation and lived on to lead full, productive lives. But man, it’s a major shakeup to body and mind. I can’t count the times I’ve reached down for a roll of plastic wrap to be foiled by the drawer that’s not there anymore.

My father got most of the work done before I arrived, but there was still plenty of cabinet emptying and stuff-reshuffling to handle this weekend. Yesterday was demo day. Here are some pix of the devastation:
The pantry, relocated.












Bye, bye cabinets and tile backsplash. What took the most time was removing the wallpaper. David was hard at  it until 7:00 pm, which shot my plans for cooking dinner. Here are random views of the rest of the house, now a storage locker for kitchen contents.






The mantle and hearth are now shelves for two centuries of Blue Willow and lead crystal.






The dining room is now an appliance bin, prep area and storage.






Upheaval can be a good thing, leading to broadening experiences and improvisation. Case in point: for the first time in his 85 years my father ordered a pizza for dinner. We had a picnic in the parlor off paper plates.




Filed under Home, Worth it anyway

Dinner Sans Souci — Thursday Night Dinner Chez Nous

Sans souci has that certain Gallic je ne sais quoi– “carefree” is the English equivalent, a fine word too.

Please don’t confuse ourThursday night dinner ritual with anything going on at Frederick the Greats’s summer palace in Potsdam with the same name.


The reason dinner is a carefree walk in the park on Thursday night is because we cook for a family of two.Sooner or later, no matter how faithful we are at heating up last dinner’s meal for lunch, buying the tiniest package of meat, or proactively cooking for the freezer, the refrigerator compartment has too much food lounging around. About the freezer: at last check, I have two trays of stuffed shells, two quarts of minestrone, a gallon and a half of chicken stock, twelve individually frozen patties of homemade breakfast sausage and a tub of moussaka. Severe thunderstorms are blasting their way through tonight; pray God the power doesn’t go out!

We try, we really do. But, every single damn week as Thursday rolls around, there’s enough First World guilt lying in the fridge to shame me into Thursday Leftover Night. Here’s tonight’s dinner:


That Italian free-form meatloaf, cooked Italian-style with red peppers and onions was some kind of delicious five days and two lunches ago. By now, it’s mostly meh. I made the guacamole tonight because I found some avocados I’d forgotten about, half a lime , some parsley and a lone Roma tomato. I wasn’t crazy about the chicken legs first time around, but hey — pulled off the bone and stuffed into some revivified (wrap in damp paper towel and zap for ten seconds) pita bread, topped with guac… maybe.

Maybe I’ll heat up the meatloaf, top it with some tzisiki made with that aging tub of Greek yoghurt in the fridge, stuff it in a pita, and hope.

Tomorrow will be even more sans souci, because the rule is: whatever doesn’t get consumed on Thursday gets tossed. Guilt-free.


Filed under Uncategorized

Girls’ Night out in the ‘Ville

I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve the friendship of Jayne and Gretchen, but I’m glad that after what — eight years — they still want to hang out with me.

We met at a former employer of mine, where they were, and are, stars, and where,for the first time of my life, I found a job where I felt out of my depth in a couple of important ways. It wasn’t all my fault (trust me!) but the mysteries of the payroll taxes, different in all fifty states, was something I came to undertrained and mystified.

Having my life’s work and happiness dependent on the quarterly accounting schedule was something I didn’t take to like a Canada goose to the man-made ponds of our office campus. Gretchen and Jayne helped me with the nuts and bolts of W2s, 1099s, and county taxes in Indiana, but more than that — we clicked. I’m older than either of them, and we’re different, each of us, in all kinds of ways. But we’re more alike than we’re different, we rejoice in our victories, have kids to be proud of, husbands to joke (very kindly) about, and sympathy for the professional and health mountains and valleys.

Best of all: I know that if I ask for advice, I’ll get it: frank, thoughtful and loving. No, strike that! Best of all is the laughter.

Erase any concept of Girls’ Night Out involving Cosmos and Manilos. We met at the Towne Tap, a Warrenville fixture dating back to the fifties. It’s a tiny, friendly wood-paneled roadhouse with a Cheers vibe. It shares a building with Al’s Pizza, another ‘Ville fixture, and the businesses have a symbiotic relationship. A drinker at the Tap walks next door to Al’s, orders a pie, gives his name, and Al’s will deliver it to your table at the Tap.

I’d like to thank Gretchen — another girl from the ‘Ville — for suggesting the Tap, because in all my years of residence, I’d never bought a beer there. That’s time wasted. I’m a big time pizza snob, because I think our home-made version is at least as good as Mozza’s. But! Al’s makes a damn fine thin crust pizza.

We didn’t party into the wee hours: a couple of brews apiece, a pizza, two hours. But when I’m hanging with these two amazing women , even when the conversation turns sad, I’m happy. I’m lucky.



Filed under Drink, Food, The 'Ville, Twenty bucks, Worth it anyway