Our Kitchen Renovation

Clifton Kitchen 2021

Clifton Kitchen 2021

Last year, like most people, we spent a LOT of time inside the house. Coincidentally, we also planned a gut renovation on our kitchen. Did we lose our minds in the process? Read on to find out! (PS, the answer is “yes”.)

Neither of us grew up with large kitchens. In both New York City and suburban London, kitchens were often added as an afterthought, often in whatever space was available between one room and another. It wasn’t until we moved out of the city, to Beacon, in the Hudson Valley, that we had more than just a few square feet of dedicated cooking space. Our kitchen in Brooklyn was so small that we had to make our own counter space by laying a cutting board over the sink. Even so, we managed to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner for 14 people in that kitchen, though I’m pretty sure it took several years off my life in the process.

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Garlic! A garden success story (with Easy Roasted Garlic)

Garlic drying on a crate
Garlic drying on a crate

A successful garlic crop in the urban backyard depends on a lot of factors. We tell you what went right this year for us, what we might do differently, and one option for roasting your garlic once it’s harvested.

There’s a line early on in one of those first-generation text computer adventures – Colossal Cave or Zork or Adventure itself, I think – where the game asks you if you’re a wizard and what the secret incantation is, requiring that you’ve played the game already, or you’ve been told the secret by someone else who has (this was way pre-internet, remember, and this wasn’t the sort of information that libraries tended to know). If you do answer that you’re a wizard, and you get the code wrong, the game scoffs at you and tells you you’re a charlatan.

Gardening is a bit like that. Some years you feel like a wizard and some years you feel like a charlatan, like an actual wizard left you in charge of their garden and you’re just randomly throwing things into the ground and seeing what comes up. I wouldn’t say that I have an innate skill by any means, but I do have an immense amount of fun getting things to grow and gradually, slowly, learning by my mistakes and the variations of the growing season. Last year we put up straw bales for the first time, and had great success there with most of our seedlings. At the time, the raised beds that I’d been relying on were retarded by the branches and roots of nearby maples, which I took down at the end of the summer. This year, the raised beds are going gangbusters, but the straw is not so successful. On the one hand, shazam!!!, but on the other hand, ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Chickens on guard duty!
Chickens on guard duty!

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Chickens! Episode 3: More Chickens.

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Dear reader, or indeed, readers: You may, singularly or en masse, have become increasingly concerned at the startling lack of chicken-related news in this blog. It is possible, but admittedly not likely, that you are of a nervous disposition, and have been unable to reconcile the existence of a “Chickens” menu with the non-existence of any news or updates regarding them. Well, my anxious friend, this post is for you.

We started out almost exactly two years ago with four red sex-link pullets. Since then, we have gained two Ameraucanas – one of which turned out to be a rooster and had to be “returned to the farm”. I don’t know why I put that phrase in quotes, he literally was returned to the farm. To, you know, “live out his life in the paddock”. What? It’s the quotes, they make everything look suspicious. Anyway, the farmer promised to “take care of him”, so I’m sure everything’s fine. Just fine.

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In the garden – July

A few notes on our success in the garden this summer … as well as our failures.

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Comrades! While Emily is entertaining you all indoors with delicious seasonal goodies, I thought I’d update you with news from the garden to show you what’s been going on outside the house this year. This is technically our third full spring/summer, but our first since we bought the house. We were loathe to install anything permanent during our rental period for fear we’d do irreparable damage to the property – now of course, we’re quite merrily doing plenty of irreparable damage and NOT GIVING A HOOT.

So: the garden. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve built two 8’x4′ raised beds. I’ve planted vegetables that we tend to use most in cooking – garlic, onions, dark greens and squash – with varying success. The first year, we had what seemed like two fresh zucchini every day. We’d eat them, go down to the garden the next day and pick off two more. The second year, we didn’t notice ANY squash growing until late in the season, I moved a leaf aside and found one enormous zucchini that must have been growing un-noticed for a month. [Emily: I wish we had taken a picture of it because it seriously would have needed an NSFW tag]. That was the first and last squash we had that year.

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A Very Nerdy Hallowe’en

A screaming cat face is de rigeur.
A screaming cat face is de rigeur.

Hallowe’en is a very exciting time over at the Nerds residence. You see, one of us (EMILY) not only grew up on horror movies but also, you know, HAS HER BIRTHDAY on October 31st, and the other one of us (MATT) has a fondness for Edward Gorey and M R James, and has spent whole months of his life subsiding entirely on candy bars. So it’s a propitious melding of minds, really.

Hallowe’en was not much of a thing for me, growing up in Britain in the 1970s – which is perhaps a little odd, considering that every other major holiday of the year is inextricably connected to the consumption of chocolate. The big event of the week was Guy Fawkes’ Night, which is fun and all, and has a bonfire and fireworks and the mocking of failed political plots, but unless the Guy was somehow fashioned out of sugar mice (IT WAS NOT), a distinct lack of sweet confections. So I thoroughly approve of the American version.

It is the most orange time of the year
It is the most orange time of the year

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