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What the last Five Years have taught us about Kitchen Renovations

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Renovating a kitchen is a lot like getting a tattoo. It is a painful process but the end result can be rewarding enough to make you forget the pain. I have carried out several total-tear-out renovations for kitchens in the past 5 years. I am not counting the 3 remodel jobs I have done in the past 6 years. 

Right now, I am teaming up with a friend on a sagging Victorian kitchen. However, we needed to sit still for some weeks after demolishing it to put together the money for the project. Now I can think of the lessons learnt during my time renovating. I hope I can apply everything I have learned to this project.

First, let’s take a look at everything step by step. I started with the kitchen in the attic of my Airbnb. What was once a hoarders-space was transformed into a cozy and cute space with a vintage vibe, ideal for entertaining visitors. 

One of my most exciting projects was when I redid my own kitchen. It morphed from a cramped space painted in Crayola colors, into a glamorous space with sleek black walls. It has been a pleasure cooking in my new kitchen the past two years. My other project was when I worked on my other house last year. 

I changed the dirty and dated kitchen into a cleaner and brighter space. After the renovation, I immediately got an offer on the house. 

What previously acquired tips will I use on my latest project?

Budget, Budget, Budget

Renovating a kitchen can be very expensive. It is easy to disregard your budget and spend more than you planned to, even when the budget is generous. The possibilities in yummy countertops, pretty tiles, and fancy appliances are just too tempting. But my budget for the flip house and the Airbnb was quite low. 

Not only was my budget low, but it was definitely below average. I still managed to do everything within my budget in all the projects. 

It takes lots of effort to pull it off, but the payoff is amazing when you can score amazing bargains. Every time you spend more than you planned to on an item, you will have to counterbalance it by saving money on something else. Hunting down thrift items and vintage pieces can help you to counterbalance and still decorate tastefully. 

Skip the Shticks

Do I find the faucet in my kitchen gorgeous? Definitely. Would I purchase the touch sensor again? Not in a million years.

It sounded like a great deal when I was getting it. But what they don’t tell you is how when its batteries die, your faucet stays off. Do you know when it happens? At the worst possible moments (picture a sink filled with dirty dishes). Not only that, it confuses guests and is generally irritating. Before I purchase a piece of fancy tech for the sake of it, I’ll take time to think of its actual usefulness.

Statement Pieces are a Must-have

Every kitchen deserves a star. My home kitchen had the Ferrari red Bertazzoni range. I was lucky enough to get them for a steeply discounted price. The Airbnb had a vintage stove. Four people had to carry the 1940s Florence up the staircase. Both of the pieces give the kitchens a striking appearance. That is something the flip kitchen missed. 

I loved the final look. But given a chance, I would do things differently. For the current project, we want to get a great quartzite counter for the Island. It is sure to make a statement.

Before Making Big Purchases Always Check Out Reviews

I just loved the black stainless look on appliances. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework. (Why would I do such a thing? Because I was afraid of any reason that would come up and keep me from making the purchase that was already half-priced online.) 

That was a decision I came to regret. The appliance gets a scratch when you so much as look at it. I am not the only one with this regret. If I had bothered to do some research, I would have known that the same thing had happened to many other people before me.

Don’t go Cheap on the Floors. 

You cannot splurge on everything, but don’t compromise on your floors. I made the unfortunate choice of going for cheaper vinyl tiles when I was renovating my Airbnb. Almost as soon as we had installed the tiles, it became obvious why the tiles were cheap. I still have the same tiles years later now, and I regret every minute of it.

Cheap materials should not be used on kitchen floors. Yes we saved some money, but that was only short term. Right now, my floors need redoing and it is going to be so much more annoying to do it now than it we had gotten it right in the first place. If I could turn back the clock, I would definitely go for something more durable. 

Make your Instructions Specific

There was a pleasant surprise waiting for us when we demolished our kitchen floor. We discovered hardwood flooring underneath our kitchen (home). When we received this gift from the universe, we decided to refinish the floors instead of retiling them. 

However, a few areas needed patching. The crew that was to do the floor refinishing said that they would pull out the pieces where the island would be placed. 

I used painters tape to outline the area the island would occupy on the floor. The only problem was that I had forgotten to mention the countertop. They cut everything out, which left a gaping hole.

Patching was done but it wasn’t perfect. I would have avoided the problem by being more specific. I have now learned to explain everything in detail when giving project instructions.  

Tips & Advice

Make Lemon Juice with No Knife and No Mess

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Making lemon juice is a messy affair. You have to cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Then you have to deal with what is left of the lemon and the seeds that inevitably end up in the juice. 

If you could add some lemon juice to your food or water without having to go through all that, you would probably jump at the chance. At least I know I would. 

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across this simple but clever trick for juicing lemons. I saw idea on TikTok, naturally. 

I had already come across this video before but didn’t pay much attention to it. The kitchen hack found its way on to my newsfeed for a second time, and I was not about to let it slide without trying it. So here is how things went:

My No Mess Lemon Juice from TikTok

The first step is to prepare your lemon by softening it and making the membranes more pliable. This makes the process of extracting juice easier. Roll the lemon until it is soft enough. 

For the next step, you will need a skewer. Prick your lemon with the sharp side of the wooden skewer and push it two inches in. 

The final step is to remove the skewer and squeeze out the juice.

It is that simple. You will be left with no mess and no seeds – just juice.

My first Attempt at No Mess Lemon Juice

I spent half a minute at my kitchen counter rolling the lemon. My palms pressed down decisively on the fruit. I couldn’t wait for step two. 

I took out a wooden skewer and stuck the sharp side into the lemon to make a small hole. Pulling out the wood skewer, I held the lemon over my water and squeezed it in my hand. 

If you are still here, you should be happy to hear that the experiment was a complete success. 

This trick worked so well for me because it gave me lemon juice and I didn’t have to deal with the pesky seeds which I hate.

This method is so much better for me than slicing a lemon to squeeze the juice because it is less messy. After only a couple of squeezes, my water tasted just right. I was happy I had tried out the new trick. 

The other thing that is so cool about this method of making lemon juice is that I could squeeze some of the juice and still keep the lemon so that I can squeeze it again later if there is still some juice left.

I concluded that this method is ideal for a situation where you need only a touch of lemon juice. It is quick and easy especially because you don’t have to do as much cleaning up after. Use it when you have company for an interesting party trick.  

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Nonstick Cookware: How you Use it, Store it, and Care for it

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There are some dishes that call for nonstick pots and pans. Omelets, pancakes, and even fish are all easier to cook on nonstick pans. 

We have already covered how ceramic nonstick cookware works differently from traditional nonstick cookware. 

Because nonstick cookware is so handy, you might find yourself using it every day. This is why it is so important to understand the differences between them, and how to use each. 

Nonstick cookware can be carbon steel, standard PTFE-coated, or ceramic. In time, cast-iron pans functions much the same way as nonstick pans, but they are not necessarily the best for searing tender fish.

Using Nonstick Cookware

The first step to using Nonstick Cookware properly is to consider your cooking methods. Some people need something dish washer safe that is easy to maintain and will serve you for a long time to come. 

Some people need a pan that is just as home in the broiler as on the stovetop. Not many nonstick pans can do this, by the way. 

Standard nonstick pans no longer come with harmful PFOAs. They now use synthetic PTFE nonstick coating instead. Ceramic nonstick pans have a nonstick coating made from a derivative of sand. Carbon steel has no chemical coating. It builds up its nonstick patina in the course of time. This is why it needs seasoning. 

Carbon steel is good for people who like high heat. Carbon steel works well with a large flame on a stove top, as well as a broiler. 

Ceramic as well as traditional nonstick pans don’t do well with extremely high heat. It tends to ruin pans with time.

Nonstick pans are perfect for eggs, delicate sauces, as well as fish. 

Standard nonstick pans get hot at a slower pace than ceramic nonstick pans, but the ceramic-lined pans stay hot for longer. Both types of nonstick should not be used with metal utensils or oil sprays.

Choose a nonstick pan with an oven-safe handle. The handle determines whether the pan can go in the oven safely. Ceramic-lined nonstick pans work safely with higher heat but standard nonstick pans have a higher nonstick ability than ceramic. So there is a tradeoff. As always, you get better service out of your pans when you care for them well.

Traditional nonstick pans are better for people who like to use medium to low heat and prefer that food never sticks to the pan. 

Ceramic nonstick pans are perfect for people who like to work with a wider range of cooking temperatures, (low to high), and prefer working with a derivative of sand for a pan lining. 

Carbon steel pans are excellent for cooks who want to be able to move their cookware nimbly between their ovens and stovetops. 

Maintaining your Nonstick Cookware

Using your dishwasher to clean your nonstick pan is a lot easier and more convenient. We understand why you want to do that. But washing it by hand will make it last longer. Also, carbon steel pans should never go into a dishwasher at all. 

Never add cold water to a hot pan. This will warp the pan. 

Use soap and water to clean each pan after use. 

Cook with low to moderate heat. Only carbon steel works well with high heat. High heat causes ceramic-lined nonstick pans to carbonize.

Use a melamine sponge to scrub gently with warm water. This should be enough to clean your nonstick pan. 

Consider working with a soft-bristle brush specially made for nonstick pans to clean. 

Under no circumstances should you clean a nonstick pan with steel wool. 

A well maintained carbon steel pan should last you a lifetime as long as you season it. Old-fashioned and ceramic nonstick pans need replacements after five years. Replace your traditional nonstick pan immediately after a scratch. 

Buy silicone spatula and wooden spoon to use with your nonstick pans. Never use metal utensils with nonstick pans. 

Storing Nonstick Cookware

Put your pans away only after cleaning and drying them. Do not store rougher items – like metal utensils – between nonstick cookware. The metal utensils may leave scratches or scuffs on your nonstick pans. 

Invest in a pegboard, hooks, open shelves, or pan organizers. Cloth napkins or pan protectors in between the pans will help to protect the precious nonstick coating on your cookware from damage.

Your cabinets and kitchen drawers should be fitted with an organizer for the lids of your pans and pots.

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Boiled Eggs without Water or a Pot

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Most people prepare hard-boiled eggs using hot water. It is the standard way to make them. But it is not the only way to make hard-boiled eggs.

Not too many people know that you can cook hard-boiled eggs with no water and no pot. That’s right. You can enjoy hard-boiled eggs prepared using hot air.

If it sounds too good to be true, the best way to prove it is to see for yourself by turning to your oven. Your oven is all you need to give you perfect hard-boiled eggs for your egg salad, Easter eggs, egg curry, or deviled eggs. Your oven will do an amazing job.

Read on to find out just how to do it.

Get your Temperature Right

Setting the oven temperature is the first step to preparing hard boiled eggs in the oven. Set your temperature to 325°F and your eggs will cook perfectly with their shells on. 

The next question on your mind probably has to do with how long you should cook the eggs. We are going to break down just how long to time the oven depending on how well you want your eggs to cook:

If you want your eggs to come out somewhat runny, you want to cook them for 20-24 minutes. The whites will be set, but the york will be just turning to a jam like consistency.

If you want your yolk to come out firm but still not solid, you want to set your oven for 25-27 minutes. The york will have acquired a nice dark golden yellow. It is easy to spread but can almost start to crumble. 

If you want your egg to come out nice and firm, you want to cook them for 28-30 minutes. The eggs will come out firm enough to make a good egg salad or deviled egg salad. 

Some ovens are not correctly calibrated. So if you find that your oven boiled eggs don’t come out as promised, that is probably the reason why.  Or it may be that your eggs are cooler than normal or really fresh. 

If it happens to you, you can adjust the temperature accordingly and use the timings specified. You will soon have it properly mastered down to a T.

Cooking the Eggs

You could simply place the eggs on your oven rack, but you could also do it in a better way. A muffin pan is even better than a normal oven rack. A typical muffin pan can accommodate a dozen eggs because it has a dozen cups.

Laying out the eggs on a muffin pan allows you to put the eggs in and out easily, because they cannot roll off in any direction. 

In the absence of a muffin pan, you can still work with any pan that is safe to use in the oven. 

Why do the Eggs Come out with Brown Spots

Oven-baked eggs often come out with brown spots on their shell exterior. When you wash the eggs, the spots may rinse off. But sometimes they don’t rinse off. Sometimes the brown spots show on the egg whites. 

This usually happens at the spot where the egg shell touched the hot metal. Paper muffin liners on your muffin pan can prevent these brown spots from occurring by forming a barrier between the egg and the hot metal. 

The eggs with brown spots are just as good to eat as those without. They are mere blemishes.

Giving the Eggs a Cooling Off in an Ice Bath

When your eggs are ready, cool them quickly with an ice water bath. An ice water bath not only cools the eggs, but it stops them from cooking any further and preserves the texture of the eggs as it is. 

One added benefit of the ice water bath is that it makes it a lot easier to peel the eggs. A large water bowl with at least a dozen ice cubes inside the water works best for cooling the eggs. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath immediately and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. You can now peel the eggs.

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