Harry and Taylor's Kitchen Renovation:
When we bought the house, the kitchen had an ugly but perfectly functional kitchen, with your standard issue Home Depot maple faced cabinets and your dark green laminate counter. we planned on replacing the counter, and relocating the upper cabinets, as they were positioned a bizarre 12" up from the counter. When we removed the uppers, the screws just spunem-dashthere was no adequate support. Harry politely asked me if he could do an investigative probe to determine the stud locations, and found two recesses on either side of the central chimney, 18" deep. In one (where the sink is now), we found the old sink mounting bracket and a towel rack, and in the other (where the fridge is), we found a piece of etched glass and a ravioli board. I bet that the carpenter came by to hang some drywall (circa 1968, according to the date stamp on what we ripped out) and just filled it in, and then mom came in and said "where's my ravioli board?"
Before opening the store, I worked as a construction project manager at Stuy Town, during the time period that they were renovating the elevators. As soon as I saw the original enameled steel panels being ripped out and left in dumpsters, I started grabbing whatever I could. I got a pile of blue enameled panels and a pile of red. I tried to get a few friends who knew salvage people to figure out how to get them into good hands, but nothing ever worked out. We have blue at home, and saved the red in the backyard for a few years, and now we have the red in the store.
What's your cooking style?
We've recently been learning a lot of cooking traditions that have skipped a generation or two: canning and preserving, meat curing, etc. I think our cooking style is pretty country comfy, overall pretty hearty but fresh. We refer to recipes, rather than follow them to the letter. We'll pull out six cookbooks and the internet before starting.
What inspires your kitchen?
Things we want to try, or things we think look good, or are well built.
What's Your Favorite Kitchen Tool or Element?
The Hoosier cabinet. We named it Julia, for pretty obvious reasons. It has an amazing functioning flour hopper, and holds a lot of supplies. It was originally supposed to be for baking, but we are not that organized. It came from a friend of ours in Maine, part of our network of vintage scavengers. A web, really. We still need to fix the tambour door that rolls down over the middle part, but that's pretty low on the priority list. The legs/feet have a great feature, a cupped ring around the leg. It's an ant moat, basically, that you fill with water so the ants can't climb up the leg. Brilliant.
Best Cooking Advice You Ever Received?
I like Sarah-Kate's clean as you go advice. And someone along the way advised me to write out recipes from books on your own, which for larger undertakings makes sense, and allows for synthesis among differing recipes and strategic task planning. Oh, and annotate your cookbooks! If a recipe needs to be changed to meet your tastes, record that so you remember what you've learned for next time. That's my own advice, but I like giving it out.
Biggest Challenge in Your Kitchen?
It's a big space, but not very well organized. We have the sink, stove and fridge all in one line, then the door to the yard and the window, and on the other side is a lot of storage and more work space. The island helps for function, but it is tough sometime to move around and probably takes more steps than industrial designers would appreciate.
A few years ago, we splurged on a 9 Qt Le Creuset French Oven. It's way bigger than we need for most cooking (we have a 3.5 Qt that gets used way more often), and we probably only use it four times a year, but there's nothing else like it.
What are you cooking this week?
Kimchi, chickens from our friends at Awesome Farm, lots of fresh salad and chard from the CSA, roasted shiitakes from the farm that sells at McCarren, pickled chard ribs... I may freeze some more potstickers for after the baby is born (any minute now).
What cookbook has inspired you the most?
Julia Child's The Way to Cook. I love the pictures of her hands!
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
We make a monster chili feast for New Year's Day every year. It's a nice release after the Holiday rush, and since we're getting old and live in New York, it takes off that stupid artificial "New Year's Eve" pressure - we're cooking for the real party tomorrow. Drawing from those great meal memories, I would have to say that the most memorable was the two day mole chili. I think Jan 1 fell on a Monday or something and I had time off over the weekend, so I started it a few days beforehand. It's a good thing I did because I could not have planned out how long it would take. It's one of those recipes that's like soak the chiles, then dry and remove seeds, then fry. That one sentence took 8 hours.