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Kitchen Complete!
by Roberta Scher


For a larger view of this photo, click here

Kitchen Done! Four months of boxes, dust, disorganization and workmen have finally come to an end. Time to move back in to our beautiful, updated new kitchen. Are we happy, yes! Is everything perfect, no.

1st steps: Organizing and Maintenance
Moving back into the beautiful new kitchen is certainly a lot more fun than moving out.  However, be prepared for many more decisions – and be sure to allow for the "after" items in your budget.
Where does everything go? In which drawers and cabinets? What types of organizing inserts are needed for each space? Should we line the drawers and cabinet shelves? The shopping and research continues... Container Store, Ikea, Home Depot, Lowe's,, and searching additional online resources as well. A recommendation to make the move back easier: Prior to the start of your remodel, we recommend opening all of the drawers and taking photos. This will help in the after-the-project organization process.


We decided to line all of the cabinet shelves and drawers. We chose Easy Liner brand shelf liners which we found at Lowe's. They were easily cut to size, and are both wipeable and washable. For the dinnerware drawers and several accessory drawers, we installed the Rev-A-Shelf Peg system. Since I am a kitchen tool collector, the utensil and flatware drawers were a challenge. We decided to use flexible deep drawer dividers from The Container Store. We purchased a "stepped" can shelf at Wal-Mart, and used flexible bamboo dividers from The Container Store in our knife drawers.So much shopping!

We love, love, love our new quartzite countertops and our stainless steel appliances, but have discovered that they require a different type of cleaner than our old appliance fronts and our previous Corian countertops. We also found an unexpected challenge - fingerprints on all the stainless appliances. What to do? Our OCD immediately clicked in - how do we keep these areas clean? We called several cleaning supply companys; their customer service representatives informed us that none of their standard cleaners and wipes are recommended for granite or quartzite. We also read that ammonia and bleach should not be used on these natural stones. So, we had to research what to do, and have discovered new types of cleaners. We are using Granite Gold ( products on everything. They have an "everyday cleaner" that works on stainless steel appliances and on natural stone countertops.  In fact, one of their spray cleaners works on almost everything in our new kitchen. (See our Granite Gold Featured Kitchen Tool article!)


Our glistening cabinet knobs and handles (From make us happy too. The design and shine add just the right amount of sparkle and style to our cabinets.
And as for the cabinet color choices. . . we are pleased with the color of the simple white wood cabinets (Benjamin Moore Simple White) contrasted with the rich dark espresso wood island and the clear glass backsplash.




We splurged on the three pendant lights (Restoration Hardware) which hang over the island - but they truly complete the ambience. (We did wait for the sale!) And speaking of lighting, we added shiny silver flush ceiling cans to surround all of the recessed lighting.


Kitchen Results and recommendations
Finally Finished! Our new kitchen delights and excites us, and it is pleasingly functional too. Our contractor was and still is very accommodating and lovely to work with; his subs were pleasant and skilled. Although we cannot say that the experience was enjoyable, it was "as good as it gets".



Dairy_side_IMG_4220EIt has been 6 months since we began, and there are a few minor adjustments still to be made. We are still reading our manuals and learning how to use each of our new appliances. We are hoping that our choices were right (more on that in future months!).



The bad news: We are now thinking of remodeling our master bath. FYI: A bathroom remodel yields a 62 percent return, on average. OY, here we go again!

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have- just email; or contact us on Twitter:, or on Facebook:

This is the third part of a 3 part article. For part 1 and part 2, click here: Part 1  Part 2.

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by Roberta Scher

This is the second part of a 3 part article.

Getting the house ready for the kitchen remodel
The shopping and appliance selection (described in Part 1) are time consuming tasks, but emptying the kitchen and adjoining rooms is even more intensive!

  DR_boxes1_cr_250w     Kitchen_mess_224H


Be Prepared!
If you are refinishing or installing new floors, everything has to be moved or stored – every table, chair, lamp. and decorative object. You will discover things that you never even noticed were there! And where should it all go? Either into a rented storage unit, an outdoor storage pod, or in any rooms you are not renovating. We had sofas in the dining room, tables in the guest bedroom and a basement filled with knick knacks, chairs, and most all of our furniture.

If you are not budget driven (yes we are), you can arrange for professional furniture removal and storage. Important tip: If you like the furniture design layout of your rooms, take a photo of every room at every angle so that you will remember where to put it all back after the project (Yes, that day will come!).


Prepare for construction dust. Cover HVAC intake vents with filter material if floor or wallboard sanding will be part of the project. If indoor temperatures permit, turn off your HVAC system during the sanding.  If possible, isolate the rooms being sanded by taping plastic sheets over passageways. Plan to change the furnace filters soon after sanding and construction.

During the tear-out and construction phase of a new kitchen, you must be ready for limited cooking unless you plan to eat every meal out.

Cooking without a kitchen... here's how to do it with a "temporary kitchen":

Recommended appliances:
   •   If at all possible, have a refrigerator (a must!) and freezer available
   •   Microwave(s)
   •   Hot plate                          •   Slow cooker
   •   Grill                                  •   Outdoor grill
   •   Toaster                            •   Coffee maker
   •   Blender                            •   Single electric burner 
   •   Tabletop style grill- like a George Foreman


We set up a table in our dining room for a coffee maker (Keurig), a toaster,  and 2
microwaves, and we used our outdoor grill quite often.




We also used some metal industrial shelves like the ones pictured here for an open "pantry" area. The shelves, after a few days of use, were jam-packed with essential food and cooking supplies for our dining room cooking.



Among the supplies you will need:
   •   Disposable tableware including plates, bowls, hot and cold cups, flatware, serving utensils, and rolls and rolls of paper towels
   •   Microwave safe disposable bowls
   •   Temporary, easily accessible shelves to store pantry supplies
   •   Plastic wrap, foil, Ziploc bags
   •   Warming tray
   •   Single serve coffee maker such as a Keurig
   •   Instant Coffee
   •   Microwave safe kettle for boiling water
   •   Plastic pour over coffee cup
My project mantra: The dollar store is my friend; the dollar store is my friend ... the dollar store ...

Dishwashing_in_bathrmWe did not enjoy washing our utensils and bowls in the bathroom sink or bathtub, but that was our only choice. This was our least favorite aspect of the "cooking without a kitchen" process. So we stocked up on disposables. If you have a separate laundry sink (we don't), consider washing your dishes there.

Menus, Tips, Tricks
A kitchen remodel takes at least 60-120 days (except on TV). This is especially complicated for the kosher or budget conscious family due to the expense and limitations of eating out and ordering takeout food.

Make it ahead. Before your project begins, and if you have freezer space, we suggest that you prepare some freezable meals.  I prepared various types of soups and froze them in disposable microwavable containers. We purchased many of these containers at 2/$1.00 at Dollar Tree.
I also froze brisket, lasagna and boneless chicken schnitzel.

Here are some menu ideas:
Cold cereal, microwave cereal, microwavable pancakes, waffles
Lunch: Sandwiches, salads (bagged, pre-cleaned lettuce only), microwavable ready to eat meals
Pizza in the microwave or on the grill
Microwave poached salmon
Microwave baked potatoes
Microwave rice, beans and cheese
Spaghetti with jarred sauce
Bottled salad dressing- We rarely use bottled salad dressing – but this was a staple during our remodel
Supermarket rotisserie chicken and cold cuts
Pre-made pizza crusts or ready to heat pizza
Canned tuna and salmon
Canned beans
Ice cream and more ice cream:)

Shabbos meals:
We served rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, grilled meats, potatoes, microwave steamed vegetables, salads, soups
We particularly loved our dessert of peaches macerated in brown sugar and liqueur served with parve Ice cream
We discovered that beets are excellent when microwaved. We simply washed them and put them in a microwave safe bowl filled about halfway with water; covered them; Then we cooled the beets, peeled, and continue to microwave until soft.

Three easy and convenient staple recipes for the kitchen-less family:
Potatoes: Cut into large chunks. Sprinkle with olive oil. Microwave a few minutes, turn potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic...then microwave until done

Rice: Put 1 cup rice and 2 cups water or broth into a covered microwave-safe bowl, and microwave about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and check for doneness. One cup of raw rice takes about 15 minutes.

Corn on the cob: Simply rinse; cover with a damp paper towel and microwave until soft.

A shout out for our Lekue microwave rice maker! I highly recommend this versatile kitchen tool. We  used it to make rice, corn, pasta and noodles. Yes, spaghetti and various pastas can easily be cooked in the microwave. In fact, it was our most used, indispensible cooking tool through the entire remodel.

Grilled vegetables and fruits: If you have a grill, we suggest grilling tons of vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, green beans and more. Pineapple and peaches are also grill friendly. The vegetables or fruits can be eaten chilled, added to rice or pasta, or used as side dishes

Working with the construction crew- Show some Southern Hospitality
Three R's of Keeping the Crew Happy- we found this advice online and think that it is great:
1. Refreshments: Offer coffee,bottled water or soft drinks. They'll appreciate it.
2. Responsibility: Move out of the way!
3. Respect: Say good morning, good night, and good job when appropriate.

The kitchen remodel process took 4 months, 4 long inconvenient months... So was it worth it?
Part 1 and Part 3 of Kosher Kitchen Remodeling with more photos may be viewed by clicking here: Part 1   Part 3

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have- just email; Twitter:,

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Puff pastry is delicate and complex, simply NOT something that you want to make yourself. Yes, we love to create all types of baked goods and yeast doughs, but not puff pastry dough. Even expert baking professionals prefer to buy ready made puff pastry. And Dufour is their brand of choice. It is simply the best that we have ever tasted. Dufour is made with pure butter and can be used in sweet or savory dishes, perfect for appetizers and desserts. After constantly hearing accolades about this award-winning line, we were delighted that Dufour became Kof-K kosher certified in 2014. From founder and CEO Judi Arnold:  "We are extremely happy to respond to the many requests we've received for kosher certification. All of our pastry ingredients have passed KOF-K's requirements, and we continue to produce the exact same high quality products that have earned us our reputation as "the chef's secret source." By the way, KosherEye was one of those voices!

We were not disappointed. It was everything we expected buttery, flaky, rich, and so easy to work with. It can now be found in specialty supermarkets, gourmet shops, natural food stores and catalogues nationwide.

Try these recipes... We tested and tasted each. Coming soon – our creation with Dufour chocolate puff pastry dough. We are also working on a new rugelach recipe.

Easy Sticky Buns
Tuna Pot Pie in a Puff Pastry Crust



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by Roberta Scher

                                Click Photo for larger view

What are the symptoms of a kitchen needing a remodel? For us it was 2 out of 4 non-functioning cooktop burners; a double oven with torn insulation; 2 un-repairable melted cabinet doors (no more laminate cabinet doors for us!); a non- working icemaker; a trash compactor which hasn’t been used in years, a pantry filled to the brim with hidden-in-the-back foods; and an aging Corian countertop.
We deliberated for over a year whether to take this major step. . . there was always that little voice inside, remembering that we grew up in homes with kitchens the size of closets without any of these “fancy” appliances; we had the basics - a refrigerator, a sink, a small range and a single oven. One of our grandmothers did not even have a refrigerator. . . just an icebox. By the way, the meals in our childhood homes were delicious.

We read an encouraging statistic which helped with our decision: In the current real estate market, experts say that you likely can recoup up to about 80 percent of your kitchen remodeling investment when selling your home.  Ok, true, we are not selling, but . . .
Yes, we decided to go forward.

Part 1: Planning Renovating a kitchen is a costly undertaking -- one that involves a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of stress. Once the decision is made to go forward, the next step is deciding on the extent of the facelift. Very soon after making that decision, that remodeling disease we are all too familiar with enters: “Since we are already doing it, we might as well. . .”  And the “might as wells”, with the possible add-ons, seemed endless -  at least they were for us:
   • Should we refinish the 18-year-old wood floors in the kitchen and adjacent rooms? YES.
   • Should we paint not just the kitchen, but the adjacent rooms as well? YES.
   • Since we have to move everything anyway for the floors to be refinished should we send the 18-year-old kitchen chairs, and the 30-year-old sofa and family room chairs to be re-upholstered? YES.
   • Should we update the 18-year-old fluorescent kitchen light fixtures? YES.

As is evident, the simple single kitchen update project expanded well into the “might as wells” territory.

Prior to launching the project we also waivered as to its management. Should we find individual contractors, and act as the project managers ourselves, or should we hire a general contractor to oversee it all? After consulting with friends and other homeowners, we decided to hire a general contractor.  And so we did.  That was a great decision for us because we did not realize how many moving parts are involved in kitchen construction. When things go as planned, there are no issues. However, when unexpected problems arrive, it is re-assuring to have a knowledgeable, experienced contractor in charge.

Sab__bath_oven1_300wKosher Considerations
There are no reliable estimates for how many people in the United States keep kosher, however, it is very interesting that most of the major appliance manufacturers have now installed a Sabbath mode in their models. There obviously is sufficient demand and financial reward for appliance brands to include Shabbos compliant features in their products. As we know, many kosher consumers order two of each appliances. But this could not be the only rationale. For information on Sabbath compliant appliances, visit the Star K:

First Step: The plans
Several meetings were set up with a kitchen designer to share the requirements for our newly designed kosher kitchen. We planned for two of each appliance and created a design, which would offer efficient placement and lots of storage space.  We went through several plans and finally settled on one similar to our prior layout. We were not remodeling due to dissatisfaction with the functionality of our space; we were remodeling due to the age of our appliances and cabinets.

Emptying_IMG_1186_300wEmptying the kitchen:
What a job! Both labor intensive and lengthy. We gathered empty boxes and bins and more boxes and stacks of old newspapers and plastic grocery bags. We emptied the kitchen in an organized way, used markers for labeling, and then we cleared space to store the boxes. We were fortunate to be able to use our basement for storage, but do be aware before starting to have an ample storage space. And, remember to not pack up essentials needed for kitchenless meal prep.
Every cabinet, every drawer, every counter top appliance, all cookbooks had to be emptied or moved – that’s years and years of accumulation. We did discover one shortcut: we took some of the old cabinet drawers, still full of flatware and utensils, to our basement storage area and left them until it was time to set up the new kitchen. This reduced part of the work.  In addition to preparing boxes for storage, we prepared a huge trash box and a huge giveaway/donation box.  This was our chance to purge cracked, broken and no longer needed items.

Shop ‘til you drop!
As we planned for the new kitchen we visited appliance stores both online and in person. Factors to consider in appliance selection included customer satisfaction ratings, repair records, price, visual appeal, energy efficiency, ease of operation and cleaning, and of course Star-K Shabbos compliance.

Researching appliances is a full time job . . . especially adding the kosher kitchen factor.  Here’s a quick summary of what we chose:

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What do vodka and art have in common? Both Van Gogh vodka and Vincent Van Gogh's art are to be appreciated and slowly savored. Both were born in Holland. And, as noted by the company, "Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh was famous for his emotional honesty, use of bold colors and for pioneering the post-impressionist movement. Van Gogh Vodka celebrates its namesake with beautiful, artist-inspired packaging and innovative flavors with vibrant, true-to-life tastes."

Van Gogh Vodka was founded in Holland in 1999 by David Van de Velde. Its distillery is still located in Schiedam, Holland, and lead by 2nd generation master distiller Tim Vos. The company currently produces 22 different hand-crafted flavored vodkas-one of the largest selections of any brand. Van Gogh Vodka is crafted using only the finest fruit, grains and purified water. The grain alcohol goes through a multiple distillation process followed by an all-natural double infusion flavoring process. The company has won numerous awards and accolades. Best of all for the kosher consumer, some of Van Gogh's flavors are now OU Kosher certified.

How delighted we were to discover that several flavors of Van Gogh vodka are now OU kosher certified. Lucky KosherEye! We have had a chance in the past few weeks to taste some of these newly kosher certified flavors, and it is our pleasure to share some of our favorites with you... yes, we are still sipping, so come on over, "y'all"!

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