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eG Foodblog: therese - So, you want to remodel your kitchen?


therese
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Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.

As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.

Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.

So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.

But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?

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Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

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The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

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I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Therese,

What a great way to start the day.  I miss the South!  Looking forward to reading your blog and seeing pics of the kitchen redo. :smile:

Thanks, fou. We've been really happy with the kitchen, and I'm looking forward to showing it off.

Some uninvited guests for breakfast:

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They're eating bird seed that they've spilled from a bird feeder that's suction-cupped onto an adjacent window. You can't really tell from the picture, but the window frame the squirrel's sitting on is actually at the second story level (the green stuff in the background is an enormous azalea bush that's down at ground level).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Good morning Therese!  Looking forward to your blog.  Breakfast looks yummy!! What's in it?  Is it like a soufflé??

It's an eggy sort of sweet pancake, flavored with vanilla. You start it on the stove top, pouring the batter into the pre-heated, buttered (Boy went a bit overboard on the butter) to make a nice crispy edge and then finish it off in the oven, where it gets puffy. It collapses quickly, and the texture then reminds me a bit of clafoutis, without the cherries.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Spent today not taking pictures of my kitchen. In point of fact, I've barely even seen my kitchen today, as by the time I found out that I'd be blogging this week I'd already booked a lot of social time. I actually first heard that I'd be blogging from a friend (who is also active on eGullet---you'll meet her later), who sent me a message off-line saying that she thought it was really cool that I was blogging. To which I responded, "Sweet jesus, I'm what?"

Lots of food so far today. I'd arranged to meet a friend for lunch at noon. We'd decided on a Korean place that neither of us had been to before that specializes in fish:

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Unfortunately they'd changed their hours, so I called my friend (who hadn't yet arrived) and we decided to go next door to:

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We'd both been before, but it's a nice place. As per the sign you can do Korean BBQ there, but it's not what most people do there, at least not for lunch (there's another place down the road where we like the BBQ).

While I waited for my friend I relaxed with a:

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Tables set with spoons (paper-wrapped bowl of spoon in foreground) and chopsticks only.

We had:

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We ended up with a lot of leftovers. Fortunately my friend was willing to take care of them, because I've already got too many meals already planned. The friend in question is known here on eGullet as FoodTutor. Here she is in person:

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After lunch we went to a Vietnamese bakery a couple of blocks away called Mozart Bakery:

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I bought things for breakfast tomorrow AM:

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The item on the plate was actually for Boy's dinner this evening, as The Man is taking me out dancing for Valentine's (and Girl has an overnight with a friend). It was described as containing sausage, but in fact was more like chicken pot pie/vol au vent sort of filling. Disappointing for him, but he still ate it.

Dancing this evening is to The Basin Brothers. The musically inclined among can check out some of their song on the "music" portion of the web site.

We don't know yet where we're eating. They usually serve jambalaya at the dance, but I don't know for sure if it's available tonight. So either we eat elsewhere first, or run the risk of a beer-only dinner. Hmmm...

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Wow, looks like you had a 10-plate panchan at the Korean restaurant! That's a lot of side dishes!

What kind of pa-jun was that?

Man are you getting ripped off Pan, if you aren't getting at least 10 panchan at your local Korean restaurants! :raz: Heck, usually you just keep askin', they keep bringin'.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Wow, looks like you had a 10-plate panchan at the Korean restaurant! That's a lot of side dishes!

What kind of pa-jun was that?

Yep, quite the spread. Typical of panchan in Atlanta (I've not eaten enough Korean outside Atlanta to say whether it's particularly generous or not), at least in my experience. One of the tofu houses always give you some little fried fish (not tiny, about four inches long) that I like (and that my kids fight over---they give you one per person, but one of the kids always tries to score an extra one).

The pajun was hae-mool (mixed seafood). A little blander than I like, but then also a nice foil for some of the spicier things. I rarely eat the rice that comes with most dishes, so the heat can get a little overwhelming.

The fish was mackerel, one of my favorites. The restaurant features a number of large, shallow open fish tanks in the front lobby. Towards the end of our visit we noticed some guys come in with large styrofoam coolers, which they proceeded to empty into a couple of the tanks. On the way out we saw that they were flounder (or something that looked like flounder), trying mightily to turn the same color as the bottom of the tanks. Or maybe it just seemed like they were trying to turn the same color as bottom of the tanks. Maybe they were really just resigned to their fate.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Man are you getting ripped off Pan, if you aren't getting at least 10 panchan at your local Korean restaurants!  :raz:  Heck, usually you just keep askin', they keep bringin'.

Get the kids to ask for you. Very effective.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Wow, looks like you had a 10-plate panchan at the Korean restaurant! That's a lot of side dishes!

What kind of pa-jun was that?

Man are you getting ripped off Pan, if you aren't getting at least 10 panchan at your local Korean restaurants! :raz: Heck, usually you just keep askin', they keep bringin'.

Seven is enough! :laugh:

Seriously, I go to Korean restaraunts only when I'm really hungry, because the panchan plus the dish is a really big meal.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Turns out that they were indeed serving food at the cajun dance (which was great) tonight, a choice of crawfish étouffée or red beans and rice.

But we ended up getting Thai on the way over, at a place about a mile from our house. Better than many in Atlanta, so I can't complain.

My husband had tom kha gai followed by a really lovely dish of little lamb chops, nice and rare. Unfortunately the picture of the latter didn't turn out, so we'll have to make do with the soup:

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I had nuer nam tok. I really like this restaurant's version, and have trouble ordering anything else when I go there.

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Since I didn't have another savory course I indulged after the meal:

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Can you pee in the ocean?

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Thai iced coffee? Looks delicious.

I have more than enough leftovers for several days from that lunch, plus I got several pastries from Mozart as well. Therese was disappointed that they didn't have the lovely boxes of small cookie assortments they usually have, because in their place they were carrying Valentine's day assortments of chocolates. I picked up a box of those for my boyfriend, and it's very cute. It reads, "Sweet Message - I wish you happy forever." Of course, it would have been even cuter if I'd picked up a box that actually had chocolates in it.

Great blog, therese. Was tonight your V-D, or are there more V-D festivities to come?

Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)
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Great blog Therese. I used to live in Virginia Highlands and my sister lives in Alpharetta. Druid Hills is a great neighborhood.

I have a tip on how to get the seeds out of the pomegranate without staining your hands. Cut the pomegranate in half and gently wack the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon into a large bowl. The seeds should fall out. Then eat with a spoon.

You can also juice them and mix it with apple juice or orange juice. I mix it with mango juice.

Yum.

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Great blog, therese. Was tonight your V-D, or are there more V-D festivities to come?

More festivities to come.

And the iced Thai beverage is actually tea. It was prettier when it arrived, with the layers nicely separated, but I took a sip and stirred it a bit before remembering to photograph it. The restaurant's somewhat dimly lit, with red walls, so even after a bit of color adjustment that shot looks too red.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Great blog Therese. I used to live in Virginia Highlands and my sister lives in Alpharetta. Druid Hills is a great neighborhood.

Cool. How long ago did you live in VaHi? We spend a lot of time there, though I don't think it too likely that we'll make it this week.

For the others out there, VaHi is another ITP neighborhood, mixed residential (mostly bungalows from the '20s) and retail shops and restaurants. A bit of a bar scene on the weekends, but it hasn't kept families with young children away.

Alpharetta, on the other hand, is about as far OTP as you can be and still be considered metro Atlanta. Lots of recent affluent development.

As for the pomegranates, I actually sort of like the tediousness of the task: sort of soothing, like needlework or cutting out paper dolls. Pomegranate juice is the antioxidant of the moment (well, the wave has probably crested) and widely available now. It makes a nice mixer with vodka---hmm, does that drink have a name?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Breakfast today is the pastries I bought yesterday at Mozart.

Here's the cake, now unwrapped. As the nut in the middle indicates, it's walnut.

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And here's the cake cut, along with a couple of cakes filled with bean paste:

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The cake is nice, mildly sweet. The top and sides look like they should have marzipan in them, but don't taste of almond, so perhaps contain ground walnuts or some sort of bean.

The bean paste filling in the small cakes is very sweet, powdery/chalky rather than sticky. I do like stickier versions as well, but this sort is very nice with tea.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Okay, time to start talking about the remodel.

Some background: The Man and I both work at the same place, Emory University. He moved to Atlanta in 1982, I moved here in 1985 (for school), and we've both always lived within walking distance to work. When our present house came on the market we both fell in love with it, but knew that we'd eventually have to do some remodeling, as the bathrooms were original and the kitchen was truly scary (more about that later).

So we bought the house is 1996, and actually had a total of three different sets of preliminary drawings done over the next six years, none of them giving us quite what we needed (and one of them unworkable because we wouldn't have been able to get approval from the Hysterical, oops, I meant to say the Historical Commission).

In the end we realized that the only way to get what we needed was to extend the house towards the back. Our lot's deep and backs up to a golf course, so that plan takes maximum advantage of the view. The lot slopes off pretty drastically as well (Atlanta's actually in the piedmont of the Appalachians, so it's quite hilly), so it meant that we could extend the basement and create a two car garage (The Man's fondest desire, as it turned out). Many houses in in-town Atlanta have no garage at all, and attached garages are particularly unusual (and particularly prized).

So the size of the extension was dictated by the fact that we wanted a garage at the ground (basement) level.

Above that is the new kitchen (ground level with the front of the house), and above that is the new master bedroom and bath.

Along with the extension we re-worked the layout of the upstairs bathrooms and closets, and gutted the remainder of the house: all new electrical, plumbing, new roof, additional insulation blown into (plaster) walls, floors re-done. If we could think of it we did it.

The job took 7 1/2 months to complete, during which time we moved into an apartment. We'd been told 7 months, so all in all a very timely process, especially considering that the first couple of months were very rainy, slowing down some of the early work.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Lovely blog, Therese. For those of us not to familiar with Korean cuisine, perhaps you could describe the dishes you had and what they consist of?

One of my favorite lunches as a kid was mango with coconut rice and thai iced tea, my mom didn't realize that they were really dessert!

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Lovely blog, Therese. For those of us not to familiar with Korean cuisine, perhaps you could describe the dishes you had and what they consist of?

One of my favorite lunches as a kid was mango with coconut rice and thai iced tea, my mom didn't realize that they were really dessert!

Therese mentioned to me that she's having just a bit of technical difficulty with her internet today, so I thought I'd stop in and let everyone know that she'll be back shortly. As far as the Korean food, the pan chan we were talking about, in the pictures indicating 10 small side dishes above, are little pickles and salads that come with everything you order, and they tend to be unique to the individual restaurant, with some dishes that are mainstays. Kim chee being very common - the spicy, fermented cabbage in the bottom-most right picture - and other types of pickled vegetables including cucumber, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, spinach and even okra. Some times there are soy beans and, alternatively, boiled peanuts. There's also a whipped potato salad in one of the little dishes.

She's more familiar with the big pancake than I am, but it's very easy to like. Just a simple batter encompassing vegetables and seafood, which is cooked in that large cast iron pan until crisp (presumably well-oiled, but the fat content balances out when weighed against all the veggies eaten) and cut into wedges while it's still sizzling. The mackerel is very simply char-grilled, giving a flavor that complements the fish very well. And then there's rice, but not much need to eat it, since there's so much other food to eat, so no need to have a heart attack over whether to use your spoon or chopsticks for the rice, or whether you can pick up the bowl. . . :wacko:

I really like Korean food a lot, actually, but no need for me to take over her whole blog or anything. . . She'll be back momentarily. :wink:

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Between the Korean, Vietnamese and Thai places you have started out with a lot of Asian food. Is that a preference or a coincidence? Are Asian cuisines particularly prominent in and around Atlanta? I wish good examples werre more readily available where I live.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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